Midland County Broadband Committee releases findings and recommendations for improving internet access, speeds

More than 1,400 surveys completed across county provide key data points for new Technology Action Plan

Midland County, Michigan (April 8, 2021) – The Midland County Broadband Committee just released its findings and recommendations for improving broadband (high-speed internet) access and speeds across the county.

The Committee, working in partnership with Connected Nation Michigan (CN Michigan), collected data from 1,438 residential broadband surveys and 44 business broadband surveys to develop a plan that addresses the pain points and opportunities for Midland County’s internet needs.

“It was critical to include the input of local stakeholders so that we can address the unique needs of Midland County,” said Sharon Mortensen, President/CEO of Midland Area Community Foundation. “Using this valuable information, Connected Nation Michigan helped us develop a Technology Action Plan that is tailor-made for our county’s needs” according to Mortensen. Tony Stamas, President/CEO of Midland Business Alliance said, “This plan is just the first step in our work to connect more of our residents and businesses to the high-speed internet they need to access important resources for everything from telehealth to telework while ensuring that our kids can take part in remote learning— something we all learned was a vital need during the pandemic.”

The Midland Business Alliance and Midland Area Community Foundation provided the funding for the Midland County Broadband Assessment conducted by CN Michigan.

From October 2020 to January 2021, CN Michigan’s staff and the Midland County Broadband Committee collected important broadband-related data from area residents and businesses. The surveys showed, among other things, that:

  • 88% of Midland households currently subscribe to a broadband service and pay on average of $69 per month
  • 64% of households that do not subscribe say that broadband is not available at their address
  • On average, Midland County households experience 26% slower download speeds vs. other communities

Leveraging its Connected Community Engagement Program, which has helped more than 650 communities nationwide, CN Michigan then analyzed that data to develop Midland County’s Technology Action Plan.

Some of the key recommendations for expanding access, adoption, and use of broadband and its related technologies across the county include:

  • Form a Midland County Technology Action Committee to provide focus and continuity in executing the action plan, 
  • Identify and prioritize specific geographic areas across the county in need of service expansion or improvements,
  • Work with local broadband providers to assess targeted unserved and underserved areas for potential buildout,
  • Evaluate and develop public-private partnerships to support the deployment of expanded broadband service,
  • Identify and pursue opportunities to increase download speeds specifically for county residents and public safety organizations,
  • Conduct a more focused assessment of the Agricultural community and explore options to improve their connectivity and service levels, and
  • Promote available low-cost broadband service offerings to help address cost issues for vulnerable populations.

“What this initial plan does is give us actionable steps to take to help connect those who are on the wrong side of the Digital Divide and also help improve service for those who have some access but are perhaps lacking in speed or bandwidth,” said Dan Manning, Community Technology Advisor for CN Michigan. “This action plan will evolve over time and require collaboration with broadband providers, community leaders and funding support, all of which are now coming together in part due to the impact of the pandemic and the drive toward recovery across the county.”

You can view results of our Midland County Broadband Surveys by heading to this page: https://www.myconnectedcommunity.org/midland-county/.

To learn more about the Connected Community Engagement Program, head to this webpage: https://connectednation.org/connect-my-community/.

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About Connected Nation Michigan: CN Michigan is a local division of the national nonprofit Connected Nation. Our mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.

Connected Nation works with consumers, local community leaders, states, technology providers, and foundations to develop and implement technology expansion programs with core competencies centered on a mission to improve digital inclusion for people and places previously underserved or overlooked. For more information, please visit: connectednation.org and follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.

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